From: "Allan Richards" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 17:07:35 +1100
Six Club members from Birding NSW camped at Leeton in central N.S.W. over
Christmas. The weather was kind - no rain of course, not too hot on
Christmas and Boxing Day although by Saturday it was uncomfortably hot in
the afternoon.

We stayed at a caravan park in Leeton. It is away from the main road so
peaceful. Nice shady trees and green lawns. Plenty of birds - Yellow
Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots, Double-barred Finches, Little Friarbirds,
Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. Red-capped Robins
hunted along the fence line between the camp and the cypress-pines in the
paddock next door. We were alerted to a family of four Tawny Frogmouths by
their weird, growling calls. They were not concerned by us - sitting on a
low branch just above our heads and feeding on the ground under the
street-lamps. We found them during the day huddled together on a branch in a
Black Box Tree.

After setting up camp, we started our birding about a block from camp at the
Almond Road Sportsground. A row of flowering eremophila attracted
honeyeaters and we quickly ticked off Pied then Black, White-plumed and
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Little Friarbirds. Along Brobenah Hall Road,
hundreds of Little Raven and Black Kites were at the rubbish dump. A little
further on, Black and White-fronted Honeyeaters were in more flowering
eremophila. We disturbed a pair of Black Falcons perched in a tree.

Five Bough Swamp was dry except for the area permanently wet from the
overflow from the sewage treatment works. Here we found the only sandpiper
for the trip, a Wood Sandpiper. Visibility through the banks of reeds is
difficult but there were several areas where we could view open water and
muddy areas. Australian Spotted Crakes and Red-kneed Dotterels were common
but we also saw a couple of Spotless Crakes and a Buff-banded Rail. There
were also several parties of Black-tailed Native-hen. On the open water
there were Red-necked Avocets, Black-winged stilts, Pelicans, all 3 ibis
species, both Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbill and many ducks including
Freckled Ducks. White-breasted Woodswallows hunted overhead. Swamp Harriers
caused much commotion amongst the waterbirds. On a muddy patch in a
cow-paddock adjacent to the wetland, there were Red-capped Plovers and
Orange and White-fronted Chats. A couple of Brown Songlarks were seen in
flight-display. We visited Five Bough twice and saw 4 Red-bellied Black
Snakes on each occasion. On the sewage settling ponds, we recorded 11
species of duck including, Musk, Blue-billed, Wandering Whistling and
Pink-eared. Also more Red-kneed Dotterels and the only Black-fronted
Dotterel recorded.

Binya State Forest was extremely drought-ridden and over-grazed by some very
thin cows. However we did have great looks at several male Splendid
Fairy-wrens and Red-capped Robins in full finery. We missed Painted
Honeyeaters but did see Yellow-plumed, Spiny-cheeked and Striped. Lots of
Mistletoebirds and White-browed and Masked Woodswallows. A Little Eagle
soaring overhead alerted us to a flock of swifts but they were far too high
for positive identification. White-browed Babblers and Southern Whiteface
were also seen.

Around the golf-course and the airport at Griffith was good for birding as
usual. Apostlebirds, Ringneck, Bluebonnet and Red-rumped Parrots and Common
Bronzewings feeding on the links were unperturbed by the golfers. The golf
course is a reliable site for Major Mitchells and they didn't let us down. A
tiny female Red-capped Robin was feeding a baby Horsfield Bronze-Cuckoo.
Four Ground Cuckoo-shrikes fed along edge of the runway. Nearby at Lake
Wyangan village we pick out a pair of Black Falcons soaring with a flock of
Black Kites.

Nericon Swamp was completely dry but Orange Chats fed amongst the grass in
front of the hide. Superb Parrots, Painted Honeyeaters and Mistletoebirds
were in the Yarran acacia along the roadside. A mixed flock of corellas,
galahs and Superb Parrots flew from a farmyard further up the road. Lake
Wyangan had plenty of water. Pelicans, darters and cormorants roosted in the
trees and on the rocks around the shore. Silver Gulls and Whiskered Terns
passed back and forth overhead. We startled a Little Bittern from the reeds
beside the road; it flew a short distance then dived back into the reeds. It
was quite a challenge combing through the hundreds of ducks at the Griffith
Sewage Works looking for specialties. There were lots of Pink-ears but also
good numbers of Freckles. Not so many Blue-bills and Musk Ducks.

A quick visit to the Red Gum forest along the Murrumbidgee River added more
species. Brown Treecreeper, Sacred Kingfisher, Rufous Whistler, Western
Warbler, Striated Pardalote, stunning male Varigated Wrens and more Yellow

Our last afternoon we drove around some of the roads through the farms
looking for brolgas and Red-backed Kingfisher however we dipped on both.
Instead we saw more Painted Honeyeaters, Superb Parrots, Cockatiels and
Zebra Finch. A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, Little Eagle and a single
Spotted Harrier. A one spot, Singing Bushlarks intrigued us. They were
displaying in flight but not calling at all.

I recorded 135 species in the Leeton/Griffith area. I was content with that
number of birds considering the extremely dry conditions proving yet again
that this area is a great spot for birdwatching.

Allan Richards
Sydney  N.S.W Australia
Phone: +61 (02) 9660-8062

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